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Judge declares mistrial in corruption case

Roger Corbin leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after

Roger Corbin leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared on the remaining charges in his corruption trial in Mineola. (Aug. 6, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A corruption trial of three former government officials centered around a redevelopment project in New Cassel ended Monday in a mistrial on the remaining 17 counts.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof declared the mistrial after one of the jurors deliberating in the case asked to be excused, saying she was suffering extreme pain from a medical condition. The last alternate juror was dismissed July 30.

On trial were former Democratic Nassau County legislators Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams, and Neville Mullings, former head of the North Hempstead Community Development Agency.

The three were accused of steering a redevelopment project in New Cassel to a developer willing to "pay to play," selling fake exclusive rights to a bank and stealing $150,000 in public funds. The trial began in February.

Jurors had returned two partial verdicts, on July 17 and Aug. 2, in which they found Corbin guilty of bribe receiving in the second degree and official misconduct, Mullings guilty on two counts of official misconduct and two counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, and Williams guilty on two counts of fourth-degree conspiracy.

They found Corbin not guilty of grand larceny in the first and second degree, three counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, defrauding the government, falsifying business records in the first degree and another count of official misconduct; acquitted Mullings of grand larceny in the second degree, defrauding the government, falsifying business records in the first degree and three counts of official misconduct; and found Williams not guilty of grand larceny in the first and second degree.

The mistrial was declared on 11 charges against Mullings, and three charges each against Corbin and Williams.

Charges against former North Hempstead building commissioner David Wasserman were dismissed June 13.

"We're going to continue to fight for Roger Corbin and vindicate his name," said Corbin's attorney, Kenneth St. Bernard of Mineola.

Williams' attorney, Michael Rosen of Manhattan, said he was "grateful for the acquittals that came down," while Mullings' attorney, Fred Brewington of Hempstead, said he was pleased with the not-guilty verdicts.

"We're going to continue to seek justice in a case that never should have been brought," Brewington said.

In a statement, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice called the felony convictions of the three men "inevitable."

"This trial concludes with one undeniable fact: that Roger Corbin, Patrick Williams, and Neville Mullings abused their positions to steal this project from the people of New Cassel for their own personal gain," Rice said.

Post-trial motions are scheduled for Oct. 15.

Juror number 7, Joseph Hoffman, 59, of Hicksville, described deliberations as "tense, thick and heavy" in a case with too many moving pieces to make the remaining charges easy to decide.

Several jurors lamented the fact that the development envisioned at the New Cassel site has yet to become a reality.

"Everybody was in agreement on one thing," Hoffman said. "The poor people of New Cassel were the only losers."

With Marina Villeneuve

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